Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Genealogy of a prayer!

In the study on the book "The Circle Maker" we discussed the genealogy of prayer.

Do you know of folks that have prayed for you?

It is a great exercise to think of people who have prayed before you on your behalf!

I had to ponder the fact that my uncle Ned had prayed for years for a wild man who through his teenage years and early twenties had experienced, a broken home, drug and alcohol abuse and several unhealthy relationships.

That wild man was me!

My uncle, one day was taking a discipleship class and it called for him to write down the names of folks who he should be praying for.

He didn't hesitate to start his list! He knew lots of folks to pray for!

Then he realized that he hadn't asked God first for the names. He stopped and he began to pray!

Almost instantly my name came to the forefront of his prayers!

Now let me back up a bit to set this up a little better.

For years in my wild stage of life I refused to speak to anyone about anything that had to do with God!

My uncle Ned on the other hand loves to speak with ANYONE who will hear him talk about Jesus!

My uncle loves nothing more than to share the love of Christ with everyone!

I used to for years, tell my uncle that if he wanted to talk to me about God, Jesus or the bible then I would get up and leave the room.

I refused to listen to him!

I wanted nothing to do with God!

Now it wasn't one or two days after my Uncle began to pray specifically for me that I showed up on his doorstep asking him to tell me about this man named Jesus.

I had Hit bottom!

As the story goes, my uncle Ned was prayed for and brought to Christ by way of a man named Doug.

I don't know Doug's prayer genealogy, but I do know that Doug prayed for Ned and Ned prayed for me!

Who are you praying for specifically!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Prayer and Action!

Over the past few days I have been thinking about the relationship of prayer and action.

Do you just pray and hope that your prayers will be answered?

I have found myself doing just that!

But what if you pray and then step out in faith about what you are praying for!

What does it look like to pray and then act!

When I started this journey I prayed for a Church (Northminster) that I knew nothing about.

I could have stayed in my room and continued to pray. Did I need to do more?

I read the book The Circle Maker and I knew I needed to take action.

I wasn't going to stand still and do nothing more than pray in my room.

I needed to take action and go to a strange neighborhood and take steps to learn all I could.

I think prayer some times needs to be backed up with actions of faith!

God clues us in on what to pray for and then are we going to take steps of faith and act!

Our faith in God requires us to ACT!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Follow up to whom are you praying for?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about a homeless gentleman who I took to breakfast one morning.

Don't believe everything you hear!

This gentleman refused an offer for a warm bed and a hot meal and instead decided to stay where he is at on a park bench in the cold across from the bus terminal.

I began to wonder what would it take to get him off the street. 

I began to pray!

I realized that one of the reasons he refuses to get off the street is that he has a relationship with a woman who lives on the streets with him.

The two of them can be found sleeping under several blankets on the bench in front of the Diamond!

Keep in mind that there is no shelter in Richmond that will take both of them in that I am aware of.

Dealing with the homeless is NOT a quick fix! 

You have to build relationships and trust in order to move forward.

I am trying to build that relationship as I go to the Alpha and Omega Church and see Jerry and Tina.

I am praying that they will get the help they need and want, and that they will experience the love of Christ in their lives.

Not my will, but His will be done!

I don't know what God is up to, but I do know that he has laid Jerry and Tina on my heart.

I assume that life off the streets is best for them, but I don't know what's best, but God does!

I know that God wants me to pray for Jerry and Tina!

Who are you praying for?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Does God hear the prayers of a drunk?

This morning was pretty awesome!

While on my drive over to Northminster, I took a different approach. I asked God who or what should I be praying for?

I drove up to my usual spot on the side of the road looking out across the lawn towards the Church.

At this time of year it is still pretty dark outside and so I waited a few minutes for the sun to come up.

While I was sitting in my car the usual student passes by unnoticed. Then a few minutes later a woman with her two dogs came jogging by.

She stopped for a few seconds right in front of my car while her dogs did their business. I'm sure she was asking herself who is this guy sitting in that car?

I began to ask myself the same question!

It wasn't a few minutes later that I ventured out for my walk.

As soon as I opened the door I was startled by a voice behind me. She said "Good Morning!"

There walking up the street towards me were two women. I hadn't even noticed them.

The next words out of her mouth came as a complete shock!

"Will you pray for me?"

I was caught off guard and didn't know what to do? I began to ask myself. Am I wearing a collar, robe or a suit?

Why would she come out and ask a complete stranger, who just got out of his car if he would pray for her. Not to mention the fact that I am a middle aged white guy!

At this point she began to ramble off a hundred reasons why she needed prayer.

With each sentence she would say "You got me?" As if to make sure I understood her.

She explained that her boyfriend was 14 years older than her and that he was a vet, but he happened to be in jail. She didn't want to loose her house. She said that money was fine, but other things were falling in on her.

Meanwhile her friend just stood in the street observing. I wasn't quite sure she wanted to participate in the conversation. She seemed to have her act together, but stood off in the distance.

Finally the lady shared her name, Shareese(not her real name). I introduced myself to her and her friend Melissa (not her name).

We shook hands and then Shareese proceeded to ask for prayer about all the other things going on in her life. She described the way she looked as "gangsta" because she didn't want to get raped.

I then proceeded to say "OK let's pray right now!" She was obviously taken back when the four letter words came flying out of her mouth and then she said "I am drinking a beer". I think it was a little obvious!

I told her I didn't care and let's do it. At that point she was more than willing. She even insisted that her friend come join us.

There we stood in the middle of the road praying for Shareese!

It was awesome!

Afterwards the two women began to walk away. Shareese turned to me and asked me if I remembered her name?

I have to admit that I forgot! I said Sharrrrr?

She gave me such a hard time!

I deserved it!

At this point being the guy that I am I shouted back "Do you remember my name?" She didn't and asked me to repeat it.

I said "Nelson" and she said that was easy like "The Nelson Clinic"

At one point I asked for hers again and wrote it down so I wouldn't forget it. I also got her boyfriends name as well. She spelled them out for me.

I started the morning asking God for who I should pray for and He showed me!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

14 Siblings!!!!

Have you ever met someone who had 14 brothers and sisters?

Today I had breakfast with Jerry and got to know him a little better.

He grew up in NC and has 14 that's right 14 brothers and sisters!

We had a great time getting to know each other.

After breakfast I dropped him back off on the boulevard.

I asked him to stay in touch and call me, if he needed help with the doctors at McGuire or MCV.

What a great way to start the day, breakfast with a new friend!

Now I can say I met a person who has 14 brothers and sisters.

Maybe one day I will meet his mom! 

He said she is still alive and doing really well!

Stronger than ever! 

I guess so after having 15 kids!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Three of the greatest words told to me!

This past Tuesday evening was one of the most significant evenings in my journey to help the homeless.

I know people who read this might be wanting something really big to read about.

Sometimes the things that are most important happen in the smallest of ways, but mean the most.

For weeks now I have been praying for a man and a woman on the streets named Jerry and Tina.

Jerry is a Vietnam vet and his good friend is Tina. They sleep on a bench in front of the bus station across from the diamond.

Tuesday morning I passed them by on my way to the Northside. They were sound asleep at the time under a pile of blankets. I then proceeded to go and pick up Charles for breakfast.

After I got Charles we went to the Dairy Bar by way of the boulevard which meant we had to pass the bus terminal. As we were driving by I saw Tina and Jerry getting up.

I pulled in and Charles and I walked over to visit and invite them to breakfast.

Tina was taken back at first, but she smiled and then proceeded to walk away down the boulevard.

Jerry was surprised to see me so early in the morning! He wanted to join us for breakfast, but he couldn't because he had a Dr's appointment.

This was significant because Jerry had been putting this off for a while. I told him we would do it another time.

I was very encouraged he was going to see a Dr. I knew he needed to badly.

As we left the sidewalk I told Jerry that I would try to see him that evening at the dinner/bible study. He put out his hand to say thank you.

That evening after I left the office I went with anticipation to the bible study. I wanted to see if Jerry actually made it to the Dr.

As I pulled in I immediately saw Jerry standing outside. He came up to me limping along as soon as I got out of my car.

It was as if he couldn't wait to see me either. Something was different from the last time we saw each other a week ago!

Jerry began to open up to me like never before. I couldn't believe what was happening. We covered a lot of ground. I then proceeded to take some clothes inside.

Jerry offered to help, I tried to resist because I knew he was in a lot of pain. He refused to let up so I gave in and he helped me carry some things inside.

That night when dinner started Jerry made a point to say he wanted to talk with me before I left to go home.

Dinner was over and I went outside to say goodbye to Jerry. He opened up some more and I got a better look at life on the streets. He confided in me unlike anything I had experienced before.

He had genuine concern for not only his own welfare, but for his friend Tina as well.

I told him to stay in touch and let me know how I could help them.
I then told him I needed to go home to my wife. He proceeded to give me a big hug. 

He then said "Tell your wife I love her and I love you!"

God is on the move!

Pray for Tina and Jerry!

I know God is up to something really big! 

Some times it comes in the form of a spoken word!

Monday, October 22, 2012

I don't remember what I have prayed for!

Now that it has been almost eight months, it's fun to go back and read the prayers that I wrote about in my blog.

What does it look like to help other non-profits and Churches?

I am seeing so many answers to prayers that I have to admit, that I had forgotten what I prayed about!

It must be old age!

I must thank Lil for encouraging me to write my blog!

This is amazing to read! God is GREAT!

The blog serves as a kinda prayer journal!

Some answers to the prayers of the post mentioned above.

Post back in March:During my prayer walk today I got the impression to pursuing how we as a church can partner with other churches to make a Northminster and reaching the community. What if we could help them fill their building? Think of what that would mean for the kingdom. Yard sale, concert, coop, services etc...

Answer: I have had the opportunity to share what God is doing at Atlee with the leadership team of Northminster. I am leading a small group at Northminster. There is a food co-op that now exists at Northminster!

Post back in March:Then I recalled an email I just received last night asking for help for another church that was hurting financially.

Answer: I shared with that church what we at Atlee have seen. It has been an amazing culture change towards generosity as a result of everyone's faithfulness to God! Today I received another email asking me to speak with other church leaders about the same! 

Post back in March: Can we all just get along to further the kingdom? What does it look like to help others in what they are doing? Northminster, Hands up ministries, Embrace Richmond , Other Churches

Answer:I have witnessed amazing things happening at Northminster, Hands Up Ministries, and Embrace Richmond. 

I have come to know so many great new friends at Northminster. I feel like Northminster is a second home to me! I sense that God is on the move in a BIG way at Northminster!

I have seen HUM grow to several more homes than when I first met Cassie nine months ago. I have seen Atlee step up in amazing ways to partner with her.

Embrace Richmond has been a true joy to work with and to see that they finally have a chance to have a presence on Brookland Park is an answer to many prayers.

Post in March:Who else can we come along and help? God please send them! Give us wisdom and clear vision as to where you want us to go and who we can help.

I did ask "God please send them" in my post!

So one of the answers I didn't expect was a request from a small church in Scottsville, Va. 

Effort Church - Scottsville called to ask Atlee, if we would ever consider a merger with them.

Now just a few WEEKS later, Atlee Community Church Scottsville will come in to being on Friday October 26, 2012!

Prayers do get answered!

As I write this post I get more and more excited about what the future holds and how the prayers and dreams to end homelessness in Richmond will be DONE!

God is just waiting to answer your prayers!

Please write them down so you won't forget!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Co-op comes together!

A few months back I wrote a post about a Mobile Grocery Store.

On Friday and Saturday I got the opportunity to follow up with how it was going.

I met Charles for breakfast Friday and afterwards we went to go pick up the mobile grocery store truck.

We then proceeded to the distribution center to pick up the meat.

When we got there we were told they were running behind. We waited and finally got the meat loaded up. 

In the mean time I met the owner and we had a great talk about how all this was coming together. She was thrilled to play a part.

After loading up the truck we proceeded to take the truck to a safe location for night storage.

Saturday morning we got the truck and took it to Northminster Church.

Upon arriving lots of neighborhood folks showed up to pitch in.

These folks had an invested interest. 

They were all part of a new food co-op!

The food pantry still goes on, but this new model promotes responsibility, dignity and ownership!

They were taking ownership of what was happening. 

It wasn't long before lots of people showed up to get their meats at a much discounted rate.

Last spring there was no coop and no grocery store in Northside with good meats to choose from at a reasonable price.

Today there is new life and possibilities in Northside! 

It's great when all people come together!

I want to especially thank Embrace Richmond and all of it's staff for making this possible!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Look what can happen in a week.

I love how God answers prayers!

They don't always get answered the way you might expect!

Last Saturday I wrote a post and this is a continuation of that particular post.

Change must happen in your heart first!

On Thursday I received an email from a good friend!

All it said was "Success today!"

I knew immediately what it meant. I was so excited!

I had been praying for Robert, the man who walks 7-8 miles one way to work, for weeks now!

The email meant that Robert got a ride to work that day from a complete stranger!

Later that afternoon I got a follow up email from my friend.

This is what it said:

It was a great start to the day. I had been going the back way everyday this week looking for him. Found out a lot about him (he will be 54 this Monday) , showed him where Atlee was and turns out he lives across the street from where we did 25 years ago. Worthwhile morning."

So picture this! 

My friend has been getting up early every day this week, driving out of his way, looking for a complete stranger and prepared to give him a ride to work.

On the other side of the equation, a 54 year man is willing to walk 7-8 miles to work one way, to Burger King in Mechanicsville. He starts out early in the morning in order to insure he arrives on time. It takes him 2 1/2 hours to get there! He's walking along Meadowbridge Road and a complete stranger calls out to him "Robert would you like a ride to Burger King?"

I love that God can answer prayers a whole lot better than anything I can expect!

PS Thanks KT!

PSS Don't forget that Robert's birthday is Monday!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's coming together!

Last night I spent the evening with the folks at Alpha and Omega Bible Church that serves the homeless community in Scott's addition.

As I spoke with the pastor and several others, it began to become a little more clearer to me as to what is needed in Northside.

I can picture a Church that opens it's doors to the homeless and whoever else would come through them.

There would be dinner served first and then bible study afterwards during the week.

On Sunday it would be breakfast and then a Church service.

First meet the need for food and then share the word.

Folks will receive two types of food.

Food for the body and food for the spirit!

PS Thanks RW!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Change must happen in your heart first before it can happen in the city!

On Thursday I received an email from a good friend.

He said he saw my friend Robert walking to work on Meadowbridge RD that morning.

This is a follow up from a blog post last month!
The Burger King Challenge

My friend said he went that way to work by chance because there was a wreck on the interstate so he took an alternate route.

Unfortunately he didn't have time to stop that morning and give Robert a ride, but the best part of the email was yet to come.

My friend ended his email by saying " I can't wait till tomorrow morning!"

I then anxiously waited to hear from him, how Friday morning would go. I started to pray about all the possibilities.

I finally received an email from my friend about 10am yesterday.

Unfortunately Robert was not seen walking to work that day.

What excites me more about the events of that day are as follows.

My friend went to bed Thursday night looking forward to the possibilities for Friday morning!

He got up earlier than usual that morning to allow for more time. He then drove a different route to work to meet a perfect stranger and give him a ride to work!

It didn't unfold the way he wanted it to, but I see it differently!

My friend was open to new possibilities! He was willing to consider something out of his comfort zone! He was willing to show kindness to a perfect stranger!

Last night my friend called me to tell me "NBC12 on your side" was taking nominations for persons who needed a car. NBC 12 was partnering with Conner Brothers and Recycled Rides to provide a car to a family in need.
NBC12 nominate-a-family-in-need-of-a-vehicle-conner-brothers-recycled-rides

How cool would it be to see Robert get a car!

I don't have all the details or answers, but what if!

I am willing to fill in the blanks, if NBC12 or Conner Brothers are willing to consider the nomination.

Would you consider nominating Robert for a car?

Just go to the website and fill in the forms.

NBC 12 Recycled Rides

PS. I would just say the nominee is Robert who works at Burger King in Mechanicsville. All the other answers just say you don't know.

PSS. Thanks K!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Prayer starts with yourself!

Below is a blog post from Mark Batterson. 

I thought it was appropriate based on the study I am currently doing  with my small group around the book "The Circle Maker".


My session at Catalyst was titled: The ONE thing you cannot delegate. Thought I’d share the cliff notes. The short answer is: prayer. There is no substitute. There is no shortcut. Prayer is spelled potential and potential is spelled prayer. Not only can you NOT delegate prayer. You need to delegate other things so you have a prayer margin. That’s exactly what the Apostles did in Acts 6. The church was blowing up. They had more and more to do in less and less time. That’s when they made a critical decision to delegate so they could focus on prayer and the Word.

Corrie Ten Boom said, “If the enemy can’t make you bad he’ll make you busy.” We’re supposed to be about the Father’s business, but we put a “y” where there should be an “i” and end up being about busyness instead of business. Prayer is the difference between busyness and business.

I love the story of Gypsy Smith. In fact, it’s the inspiration behind Draw the Circle: The 40-Day Prayer Challenge that releases in December. Here’s the short version.

Gypsy Smith was powerfully used of God preaching to millions. Every where he went, it seemed like revival was on his heels. Gypsy revealed his secret to a delegation of revival seekers that asked him how they could make a difference with their lives the way he had with his. His answer was simple yet profound—as timely and timeless now as it was a hundred years ago.

Go home. Lock yourself in your room. Kneel down in the middle of the floor, and with a piece of chalk draw a circle around yourself. There, on your knees, pray fervently and brokenly that God would start a revival within that chalk circle.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Life change can happen on the busiest of days!

Life change can be best told through a story!

Yesterday I had a great time catching up with my cousin and former business partner, Raymond Parker. He wanted to share with me the story behind a young aprox 20 year old man named Dave (not his real name).

The story started this past August at Northminster Church. Charles had approached me about Dave and told me that he lived in the neighborhood near Northminster. Dave needed a job.

I suggested that Charles tell Dave to approach Rental Works. I knew that RW would be in need of seasonal help this coming fall.

Dave approached the manager at Rental Works and at first wasn't sure if Dave would be cut out for the job he had in mind.

After a couple of weeks of not finding the right person, the manager called Dave back in to give him a chance to prove himself.

Dave came through with flying colors. He picked up on everything he was put in charge of.

Now it was on a busy Saturday afternoon that Russ (employee) came into Raymond's office to ask if they could all pray together with Dave.

Dave was ready to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Keep in mind that a busy Saturday in the fall at Rental Works is INSANE! The phones are non stop and the customers can be lined up out the front door!

While the phones were ringing off the hook and customers were patiently waiting, life change was happening in the back office! 

A huge celebration was taking place!

Later that afternoon Raymond knew he needed to get Dave connected to a Church! He suggested Northminster and even told him about the Church he went to, Hope Pres in the far west end.

On that Sunday Raymond went to Church as usual and then on Monday came into work. It wasn't long there after that Raymond learned that Dave had shown up on his own at Hope. Raymond hadn't even seen him.

The following week Dave was quoting scripture from the message given the previous Sunday.

As a matter of fact Dave had mentioned to Raymond the need to get his car fixed. Raymond responded by offering to give Dave a ride. Dave said no he did't need a ride he needed his car fixed so he could bring his friends to Church!

Don't let your busyness get in the way of what God might want you to do!

It could mean the difference between Life and Death!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sunday, October 7, 2012

What's The LINE?

Here's a great video that speaks about poverty in the US!

Sometimes you just need to listen and learn what is going on around you!

We are all one or two bad decisions away from being homeless!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Transportation needed for the homeless

At what point does the lack of transportation in the Metro Area hold us back from overcoming poverty and homelessness?

Over a few months ago I was very frustrated to learn of a couple of jobs available in Hanover County. The frustration came from the fact that I had a couple of guys available for a specific job, but they had no transportation.

The bus service did not go out to the Hanover Industrial Park.

Below is a great article from the Richmond Times Dispatch from earlier this week. Dr John Moeser has provided great information concerning this issue.

Transportation is a huge obstacle to overcome.

On Thursday I met with a representative from GRTC along with several other people from different churches. GRTC explained the challenges which are mainly associated with the county supervisors and their view of public transportation.

In most cases it's viewed as a social issue as opposed to a economic development issue.

The social issue means that it is only for the poor. 

The economic issue is about overall economic growth through jobs.

In order to make a bigger impact on the homeless community, we need jobs and transportation to get to those jobs!

Mass transit is lacking in the Richmond Metro Area!

We could learn a lot from our friends in Europe!   

Friday, October 5, 2012

Don't believe everything you hear!

Today was a great day of learning more about the homeless population!

I started the morning by driving out to the hood to pick up Charles for breakfast.

Charles came out the house at 7am and we drove off to our usual spot in Scott's Addition called the Dairy Bar.

On the way to the restaurant we drove by a homeless person I had seen before at a meeting at the Alpha and Omega Bible Church this past Tuesday.

He was walking down the road across from the Diamond.

As I drove by I began to have that discussion in my head again!

Should I or shouldn't I?

Should I stop and ask him to join us or not? This struggle went on for several blocks as I drove along.

Mean while Charles is having a conversation with a dummy at this point because I am not listening to him, I am trying to figure out what to do in my own head.

I finally stop the car in the middle of the street and ask Charles if we should go pick up Jerry on the street.

Charles said be ready for what you might be getting into.

I knew God was up to something!

I made the u turn and chased down Jerry.

When we caught up to him we asked if he wanted to go out to breakfast. Once he saw a familiar face he agreed to join us.

At breakfast we asked where he was sleeping? He said on the bench right in front of the bus station. Charles proceeded to offer him a bed at a shelter, but he refused.

Jerry had heard rumors about the place and didn't want to go.

Unfortunately there is probably more to the story than what we were getting. 

We had a great breakfast together and we took Jerry back to the place we picked him up from.

Afterwards Charles and I spent some time talking. Charles explained that too often we will believe the false facts of others without checking things out for ourselves.

Charles had explained that this was true in his life.

I know this to be true in my own life. I will take things at face value without checking them out myself.

Jerry had a perspective about this one shelter that he had heard about, but was not totally accurate. He would not believe what we told him to be true.

Charles should know, he spent 33 years on the streets.

Charles suggested that we need to show him ourselves. I hope that opportunity will come soon.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A picture to drive home a point!

On Tuesday night I went to the Church on Marshall St in the rain, that serves the homeless.

The more I attend the more comfortable I am getting with the unfamiliar setting.

I don't do we'll around strangers. It takes me some time to get to know folks.

During dinner I got to know one gentleman. We enjoyed a conversation about college. He knew about King college where my son goes to school.

I then proceeded to take note of all the folks I had seen before the last time I was there.

What I struggle with the most, is the fact that when it is all over I get in my nice car and drive home to my lovely wife and comfortable setting.

I walk out to my car and watch men and women scatter into the dark and wet night.

Where do they go?

I pray that that picture will burn in my soul to fuel the path I am on to help end homelessness in Richmond!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fish out of water

Have you ever been in a situation that you feel like a fish out of water?

You really don't know what to do and you begin to stress about it!

In those circumstances I have to rely on this verse.

2 Corinthians 12:9
New International Version (NIV)

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness"

It's not about what I can do, but what he wants to do through me!

Maybe I NEED to be a fish out of water so I can see God do His thing!

Monday, October 1, 2012

How does God answer prayers?

When I am praying in the Northside how do I know God hears my prayers?

What do the answers to my prayers look like?

What happens when all is quiet?

Sometimes when I contemplate on these questions I come up with the answer that God says!

Yes, No or wait!

At this point I am waiting!